USAID Launches $1 Million Mental Health Project in Uganda

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The United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), has announced its first-ever mental health-focused project in Uganda, providing $1 million in funding.

A statement released by the US Mission in Uganda on Thursday indicates that the three-year project will be implemented by the NGO Strong Minds.

The project will focus on building local, evidence-based mental health and development initiatives. It aims to increase the availability of affordable mental health services by training community members to deliver these services effectively.

This funding comes at a critical time as Uganda battles a growing mental illness crisis, with studies showing millions of Ugandans living with mental illness, either knowingly or unknowingly.

Data from 2020 and 2022 rank Uganda among the top six African countries for rates of depressive disorders and second-highest in suicide rates among East African males ages 18-35.

In response to this challenge, Uganda’s Ministry of Health has embarked on an awareness campaign urging Ugandans to seek professional help when burdened with thoughts and worries. The new funding from USAID supports this agenda, signalling a commitment to improving mental health.

“The U.S. government recognizes that good mental health is fundamental to achieving and sustaining development objectives, in Uganda and around the world,” said USAID/Uganda Mission Director Daniele Nyirandutiye.

The statement highlights the broad impact of untreated mental health issues, noting that those affected are statistically less physically healthy, achieve lower economic and academic success, and are more likely to be victims of crime or recruited into criminal or extremist activities. Unaddressed mental health issues can harm individuals, families, and societies, significantly influencing development outcomes.

The project will integrate mental health services across existing USAID programs in Uganda, including child protection, health, education, economic growth, and human rights. It will train community members to provide evidence-informed psychoeducation and mental health screening and treatment.

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